First published in the March 26 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
Glendale resident Maya DeSousa, 17, was recently named a semifinalist in the Music Center’s annual Spotlight competition, a nationally renowned performing arts competition recognized for its scholarships and artistic development.
The junior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts is one of 100 standouts chosen throughout Southern California to compete in final auditions by mid-April for one of the coveted 14 final spots.
“I was beyond shocked and happy to find this out, it was a great feeling,” said DeSousa, who was chosen for the theatrer category. “No matter what happens, it’s validating to get feedback from a program like Spotlight; it has been so supportive and it’s really helped me grow.”
This year, more than 1,300 teens representing more than 256 schools, 181 cities and eight counties auditioned for the program. Students compete in seven categories: acting, classical voice, non-classical voice, ballet, dance, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental.
All applicants receive written feedback from panels of judges following each audition round to help students improve and gain knowledge in their performance discipline. One of the Music Center’s fundamental goals is to support arts learning and provide students the opportunity to develop performance abilities, receive college preparedness skills and gain confidence to pursue their dreams in the performing arts.
The program had gone online during COVID-19 restrictions but will return to in-person arts experiences at its campus.
“After nearly two years of online programming and distanced arts learning, the Music Center is thrilled to bring the Spotlight performance and in-person arts experiences back to our campus. Spotlight offers participants multiple opportunities for artistic development that help these aspiring young performers hone their craft and guide their aspirations, whether that be on stage or in the boardroom,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of the Music Center.
“We want to ensure young people have a supportive and nurturing environment and performance experiences that allow them to develop their talents and determine their path. Spotlight offers the means for them to do that,” she added.
Semifinalists are awarded $300 and attend a special master class in their discipline with highly regarded artists, who share their expertise on performance technique, training and professional life.
DeSousa, who attended Incarnation Parish School before going to LACHSA, is also a dancer and loves musical theater. Though she will complete her third round of auditions next week, she said the process has been such a joy that the outcome is secondary.
“I’m very nervous; nerves are definitely at the forefront of my mind, but I’m also really excited,” she said. “It’s such an amazing feeling not to have to perform for a little Zoom camera anymore — it’s so different performing live again, it has reignited the passion I have for acting.”